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Whitman V. America Trucking Associations, Inc - Essay Example

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This case is within the coverage of Environmental Law. The issue in question is the constitutionality of the air quality standards that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued for ground-level ozone and fine particles which are considered harmful effects of air pollution that can endanger both the public safety and public health…
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Whitman V. America Trucking Associations, Inc
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Download file to see previous pages In a review conducted by EPA, it revealed that public health can be improved by lowering emission standards for ozone and particulates. The fine particles found in air pollution can cause premature death and chronic bronchitis. On the other hand, ozone can cause lung inflammation and prolonged exposure may cause permanent damage to the lungs. Both pollutants are considered as health hazards since they are closely associated with increased hospital admissions and can cause respiratory problems like asthma and respiratory tract infection. EPA lowered the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) which was challenged by industry groups for failure to account the cost of compliance. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the industry groups. Hence, appeal was made by EPA. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the constitutionality of EPA’s delegated power to set national air quality standards for the protection of the public from harmful effects of air pollution, without considering the economic costs of implementing the standards. The quality standards set forth by EPA is imbued with public interest for the protection of the nation’s health and safety. The High Court ruled that there was no violation of the non-delegated doctrine and EPA acted within the bounds of the delegated power. The key issue in this case is whether or not the (EPA) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) has the delegated legislative power to enact new regulations and set national air quality standards for the protection of the public from harmful effects of air pollution. Under Section 109(b)(1) of the CAA (Clean Air Act) enacted by Congress, it empowered the EPA to set ambient air quality standards and promulgate regulations for identified air pollutants. When the EPA reviewed this information after five years, the EPA issued an amendment to the Act in Section 109(b)(1), requiring the EPA to set air quality standards necessary for the protection of public health “the attainment and maintenance of which are request to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety.” Plaintiff American Trucking Associations, Inc. brought suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia and argued that the amendment is unconstitutional while at the same time questioned the delegated legislative power to the EPA. The district court held that the CAA did not provide any “intelligible principles” to the EPA for enacting new regulations, and suggested that the EPA could avoid unconstitutionality by adopting a more restrictive version of Sec. 109(b)(1). The Court of Appeals (D.C. Circuit Court) ruled otherwise by stating that the standard making procedure delegated by Congress to the EPA to set air quality was an unconstitutional and runs counter with Article I, Section I of the U.S. Constitution because it found that the EPA had construed the statute to afford no "intelligible principle" to direct the exercise of authority of the agency. EPA misinterpreted the statute believing that the agency can exercise of authority and implement a national ambient air quality standard. The district court remanded the regulation to the EPA for review, and the agency appealed. The Court of Appeals agreed with the district court, thus, prompting Whitman and the EPA appealed to the US Supreme Court. The ruling of the Supreme Court found that degree of agency discretion that is acceptable varies according to the scope of the power conferred to it by the legislature. Administrative agencies, like EPA, are not given full discretion and blanket authority when faced with all-encompassing regulatory ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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